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Iran refuses UN nuclear watchdog access to sites

March 4, 2020

Tehran has said it has "no obligation" to grant the International Atomic Energy Agency access to certain sites in Iran. Iranian officials accused Israel and the US of trying to "exert pressure" on the agency.

Iranian technician works at the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/V. Salemi,

Iran said on Wednesday it has no obligation to fulfill requests from the United Nations' nuclear watchdog to allow access to the country's nuclear sites, adding that such requests are based on "fabricated information" and require a legal basis.

"Intelligence services' fabricated information ... creates no obligation for Iran to consider such requests," said Kazem Gharib Abadi, Iran's ambassador to the UN in Vienna.

Abadi also accused the US and Israel of trying to "exert pressure on the agency... in order to distort the proactive and constructive cooperation" between the IAEA and Iran.

The comments come after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a regular quarterly update on Iran's nuclear activities.The quarterly said Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium nearly tripled since November to more than a ton, violating  the 2015 nuclear deal.

Leaked report

In addition to its regular quarterly update, the IAEA sent a second report to member states, reprimanding Iran for failing to grant UN inspectors access to one or more sites of interest. The report looked into Tehran's denial of access to two sites which two senior diplomats said are believed to have been active in the early 2000s. The two sites were reportedly among the three locations that the IAEA had been questioning since the middle of last year.

The report also said Tehran has not clarified the IAEA's questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities.

It was unclear what exactly is thought to have taken place at the three sites, none of which the IAEA has visited before.

Read more: Opinion: Iran must save P5+1 nuclear deal — not the EU

'Not obliged' to respond

According to French news agency AFP, the IAEA said in Tuesday's report that it had received a letter from Iran saying Tehran did "not recognize any allegation on past activities and does not consider itself obliged to respond to such allegations".

Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran's nuclear agency, was quoted on Wednesday by Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency as saying: "Not every question and every access is up to the agency." Kamalvandi said he believes the IAEA's questions to Tehran were based on distorted information by "the Zionist regime," referring to Israel. Iran does not recognize the state of Israel.

"Certainly, if any country in the world agrees to answer such questions, there will be thousands and millions of questions and also there will be thousands of requests to have access," Kamalvandi said, but did not elaborate further.

mvb/aw (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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